Applied Reachability Analysis for Spacecraft Rendezvous and Docking with a Tumbling Object
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The objective of this research is to investigate the dynamics, and reachability characteristics of a spacecraft (commonly referred to as the deputy) conducting proximity maneuvers about a resident space object (commonly referred to as the chief) in a tumbling state of motion. Specifically, the goal is to identify initial conditions from which a specified maneuver is feasible, within a specified amount of time. This research question can be answered by solving a reachability problem, and computing a backwards reachable set. However, the complexity of the relative roto-translational dynamics of this scenario poses challenges for existing reachability tools. This paper presents the 6-DOF roto-translational relative spacecraft dynamics, from the perspective of the tumbling chief. A method based on minimum time optimal control is proposed for computation and visualization of backwards reachable sets for both relative translation and rotation, in the particular case of a chief in circular orbit spinning about a principal axis coinciding with the orbit normal. The proposed method makes the problem more tractable and provides insight into the reachability characteristics of this scenario.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.2514/6.2018-2220
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